Middle Eastern food is served and Middle Eastern customs are observed at the Hope & Heritage Gala benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Photos courtesy Mary Guiteau.

Culture with a cause: St. Jude Hope & Heritage Gala

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital treats and cures patients from all over the world, including many young children from Louisiana. Its team is known for easing worries by accommodating families when it comes to treatment, travel, housing and food. However, for St. Jude to carry out its mission, the majority of the hospital’s funding must come from its fundraising and awareness organization, the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities. St. Jude founder Danny Thomas was of Lebanese descent, and this year Baton Rouge’s second annual St. Jude Hope & Heritage Gala will pay tribute to his heritage.

This culture-packed evening will take place at the Renaissance Hotel May 6, and co-chairs Lynne Spears and Mary Guiteau say they think it will top last year’s inaugural gala.

“The event is unique, to say the least,” says Guiteau. “It will include a silent auction with several authentic items from Lebanon and live entertainment from a belly dancing troupe. Traditional Lebanese line dancing, called Dabke, and a live band will also be part of the fun.”

The city’s local Lebanese club, the Cedars Heritage Club of Baton Rouge, teamed up with the ALSAC office in the capital area to launch the gala. The groups were determined to incorporate Middle Eastern customs at the event to insure that it would be unlike any other fundraiser in Baton Rouge.

“It’s a great way to pay tribute to St. Jude’s founder, as well as to celebrate the rich Lebanese culture that’s so prevalent in the Baton Rouge area,” Guiteau says.

Restaurants such as Kamal’s Kafe, Zoroona Mediterranean Grill and Serop’s will be serving authentic dishes that are sure to set the Middle Eastern tone. To purchase gala tickets, become a sponsor or make a donation, visit stjude.org.